School Immunization Program

by Donna McCollum

For children's protection against deadly diseases, there's the Vaccine For Children program. There are 3,300 participants in Texas, primarily school districts. Nacogdoches Independent School District volunteer medical director, Dr. W.E. Furniss, likes the benefits of the program. "A lot of children will have access at the school that they're not easily afforded through the local provider in the community...some of the under privileged children."

NISD school nurse Anita Farr can administer the state-provided vaccines but, before doing so, she's careful to document the vaccination, each and every time. "Without the documentation, it says I haven't given the shot. I must document everything I've done - the manufacturer, the lot number, the place the shot was given, the position it was given in, and who gave it," said Farr.

The state requires the documentation, but does not monitor or evaluate the protocol followed by each participant. Toni Wright works in the immunization program for the Texas State Department of Health Services. She explained, "The administration of that vaccine is the responsibility of the medical provider or medical director."

Parents have a responsibility, too. Parents should sign a permission form, keep accurate home records, and double check school records. Furniss said, "Occasionally, a child - because of poor records from the family to the school and, possibly, I suppose, from the school back to the family -  the child could receive an extra immunization."

 The Center Independent School District is looking into the procedures followed during a recent shot clinic at an elementary school. This follows a complaint by a parent of a five-year-old boy. The boy's grandparents claim the child was given several immunizations, but say nobody can tell them the vaccine used, nor who gave it. This concerns the family because the child has allergies. The state health department is aware of the complaint but, right now, is not involved.

No program is perfect, but medical providers agree vaccines for children's economic and health benefits far outweigh its risks.